Grant Lee Buffalo Fuzzy
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When Grant Lee Buffalo cut their debut album, 1993's Fuzzy, they had a distinct advantage over most bands making their first trip to the studio -- vocalist and guitarist Grant Lee Phillips, bassist Paul Kimble and drummer Joey Peters had already recorded two LPs together as members of the then-recently defunct Shiva Burlesque, and most of Fuzzy's 11 songs dated back to SB's latter days. This goes a long way towards explaining how Grant Lee Buffalo were able to make an album as confident and solidly crafted as Fuzzy, but it was even more significant that Phillips had a marvelous voice, wrote fine and evocative songs, and was fortunate enough to be working with sympathetic accompanists who had a good idea of how to tap into the mysterious melodic structures of his music. (Kimble was an especially valuable ally in the studio, helping to produce and engineer these recordings and giving this album its full, widescreen sound.) Fuzzy is Grant Lee Buffalo's most satisfying album; while the group would expand on their musical formula over their next three albums, this album's relative Simplicity and striking dynamics ultimately serve these songs better than the more elaborate recordings that would follow, and tunes like "Soft Wolf Tread," "Dixie Drug Store" and the title cut fuse the richly American imagery of the burgeoning alt country movement with a California gothic sensibility that was all their own. Fuzzy is deep and mysterious stuff, but also very beautiful and crafted with imagination and care, and it's no wonder Grant Lee Buffalo became critic's darlings shortly after this was released.